News in the Neighborhood


New Research on EAB

Since the emerald ash borer, the metallic green ½-inch long insect, was found in St. Paul in 2009, the invasive beetle has rapidly spread to 26 counties, including Scott, Sibley, Steele, Rice, and Brown. Each of Nicollet, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth counties has yet to report instances of the highly destructive tree pest, but they’re all surrounded by counties with confirmed reports, and the insect may already be present.

The counties with confirmed reports remain under quarantine, effectively regulating ash tree material movement to stop EAB from further expansion. However, new research reveals a potential strategy to fight back.

Newly released University of MN research may further help state officials in their efforts to control the invasive insects’ spread and prevent at-risk ash trees from dying. The University’s MN Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) has recently announced a study describing fungi isolated from the galleries created by EAB larvae as they feed just beneath the bark. The study is a critical first step in identifying promising fungi candidates for EAB biocontrol.

Ash tree samples affected by EAB have been gathered for DNA sequencing to identify fungi within the sample. Samples show a diverse array of fungi, some of which researchers say may quicken wood decay, while others could potentially be used in the fight against EAB. This project has identified those species of fungi associated with EAB infestations in MN and opened up new possibilities for managing one of the most devastating tree pests.

NOTE: At an hour-long webinar on EAB research from the University of MN on Thursday, April 22, at 11 a.m., the MDA and the university’s Forest Entomology Lab will be sharing updates on EAB research with the state.


Dancing Like the Stars

A fundraising event, called Dancing Like the Stars, is scheduled for Sunday, April 11, for 2B Continued, a regional nonprofit established to increase awareness of suicide prevention, mental health, and wellness through advocacy, education, and outreach. Tammy Diehn established 2B Continued in 2019 in memory of her younger sister, Shelly Teubert, who died by suicide in January of 2017. Diehn wanted to focus on how her sister lived instead of how she died, while still raising awareness about suicide prevention and mental health. While listening to some of her sister’s favorite songs, Diehn felt that Shelly was talking to her through the lyrics of ‘I Hope You Dance’ by LeeAnn Womack. Since her sister loved to dance, Diehn started planning a Dancing Like the Stars show as an annual signature fundraising event. The show was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 11, 2020 – Shelly’s birthday – and all 600 seats were sold out. Then COVID-19 hit, forcing it to be rescheduled for Sept. and ultimately postponed to 2021. Now, event organizers are moving forward with Sunday, April 11, and have transitioned to a virtual event, livestreaming form the city center in Glencoe. Eleven ‘star’ couples from the four-county area (Carver, McLeod, Meeker, and Sibley) who are inexperienced dancers are looking forward to a little friendly competition, which includes a pre-event fundraising campaign, a judge’s choice award, and a people’s choice. The grand champion with the highest ranking in the three categories will be awarded a large mirror ball trophy, just like the Dancing with the Stars television series. The ‘stars’ will perform live in front of four local celebrity judges and a small number of invited guests per virus safety plans; however, anyone can watch the dancers, vote, and donate for free through the 2B Continued website:  


Genetic Testing Offers Hope

John Kline, of New Prague, has long lived with depression, but none of the antidepressants that psychiatrists prescribed seemed to work, and he slipped further and further into depression, which became so severe that he could hardly get out of bed. The Klines were at the end of their rope and were considering electroshock therapy when they learned of genetic testing. John’s wife, Barbara Droher-Kline, reached out to numerous doctors, but had trouble finding one that knew how to give a genetic test. On a whim, Droher-Kline contacted her family physician, who told them that she could prescribe a Gene Sight test, developed by the Mayo Clinic.

When the results came in, the Klines discovered that the medication John was prescribed couldn’t be metabolized by his body, and because doctors kept upping the prescription, Kline’s symptoms worsened. Since having the genetic test done, John was enrolled in an outpatient treatment program where he could develop skills to recover. While depression remains a daily struggle, John has started taking his life back. Since the experience, Droher-Kline has tried to get the word out about genetic testing. While the first publicly available pharmacogenetic test dates back to 2005, awareness of these tests is only just starting to surge. Many doctors still do not know how to best utilize these tests in patient care and many insurers don’t cover them.

To make pharmacogenetic tests more accessible, the University of Minnesota has launched a Provost Grand Challenge Research Initiative to facilitate research, education, and clinical use of these tests throughout the state of Minnesota. The initiative is a collaboration between 75 people at the University of Minnesota and health care institutions across the state. The university is also developing a resource that would allow individuals to have their test results stored and made available to different doctors across the health care systems. Hopefully, pharmacogenetic testing could become more standard and used earlier in the health care process to prevent patients and providers from engaging in a trial-and-error process before finding the right medication.


Remembering Prince

The Arts Consortium of Carver County (ACCC) has posthumously named Price Rogers Nelson their honorary member of the year. “The ACCC is focusing on and celebrating Prince’s musical genius and his international acclaim. The ACCC invites Carver County, the cities, schools, libraries, and businesses to join ‘Purple Reigns’ and contribute to “painting the county purple,” stated an ACCC press release. “As Prince’s birthday is June 7, June will be our month to express ‘Purple Reigns’ throughout Carver County.”

The ACCC’s criteria for becoming an honorary member are “being a current or former resident of Carver County and having created art that has achieved national or international acclaim or other as determined by vote of the Board of Directors.” A ceremony will be held June 17 at the Chaska Community Center, home of the ACCC which has previously given 11 other artists this honor.

Paisley Park will open its door to visitors for free on Wednesday, April 21, the fifth anniversary of Prince’s death, for fans to pay tribute and celebrate his legacy. The MN rock star’s home and recording studio will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with reservations required. Guests are welcome to leave flowers, mementos, and other items in front of the Love Symbol outside the main entrance at 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen. Visits will be timed, and the museum will not host tours on April 21.

A portion of Hwy. 5 in Chanhassen is one step closer to being renamed Price Rogers Nelson Memorial Hwy. After the Chanhassen City Council voiced its support for a citizen action request from Chanhassen resident Bob Finn and Paisley Park security guard Mark Webster to rename the road last fall, District 47 Sen. Julia Coleman (R-Chanhassen) and District 47B Rep. Greg Boe (R-Chanhassen) drafted a bill that would allow MnDOT to designate the seven miles between Interstate 494 and Galpin Drive as a memorial route for the late rock star.

However, renaming a part of Hwy. 5 is not as easy as just putting up a new sign. Fifty miles of Hwy. 5 is already a memorial hwy. named after former Sibley Co. State Senator Augie Mueller. MnDOT does not allow new memorial designations on highways already named, so the Mueller family would have to give up a portion of the road. Evidently, the Mueller family is open to the change for the seven-mile portion of the hwy. in Chanhassen, but the MN Legislature is focused on the state budget this year, so the bill probably won’t be approved until 2022.

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